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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Fake news: a philosophical look at biased reasoning [excerpt]

In the search for moral truth, when we learn what is “right,” we in turn learn what is “wrong.” But how can we know whether our conclusions are sound, or the result of biased reasoning? In the following shortened excerpt from On Truth, Simon Blackburn examines how our minds move, and questions whether or not we’re capable of seeking out “truth.”

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The dilemma of ‘progress’ in science

Most practicing scientists scarcely harbor any doubts that science makes progress. For, what they see is that despite the many false alleys into which science has strayed across the centuries, despite the waxing and waning of theories and beliefs, the history of science, at least since the ‘early modern period’ (the 16th and 17th centuries) is one of steady accumulation of scientific knowledge. For most scientists this growth of knowledge is progress. Indeed, to deny either the possibility or actuality of progress in science is to deny its raison d’être. 

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How well do you know Saint Thomas Aquinas? [quiz]

This August, the OUP Philosophy team honours Saint Thomas Aquinas (1224/5-1274) as their Philosopher of the Month. Aquinas is a well-known figure in theology and his ideas are becoming increasingly studied within the discipline of philosophy. His work on Aristotle and his two major texts Summa contra Gentiles and Summa Theologiae have gained him the reputation of being one of the greatest philosopher-theologians of his time.

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Philosopher of the month: Saint Thomas Aquinas [timeline]

This August, the OUP Philosophy team honours Saint Thomas Aquinas (1224/5-1274) as their Philosopher of the Month. The Italian philosopher, theologian, and Dominican friar is regarded by many as the greatest figure of scholasticism. Thomism and Neo-Thomism are both popular schools of thought related to the philosophical-theological ideas of Aquinas.

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From Galileo’s trajectory to Rayleigh’s harp

A span of nearly 300 years separates Galileo Galilei from Lord Rayleigh—Galileo groping in the dark to perform the earliest quantitative explorations of motion, Lord Rayleigh identifying the key gaps of knowledge at the turn into the 20th century and using his home laboratory to fill them in. But the two scientists are connected by a continuous thread.

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How well do you know Merleau-Ponty? [quiz]

This July, the OUP Philosophy team honors Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-61) as their Philosopher of the Month.  Merleau-Ponty was a leading French phenomenologist and together with Sartre founded the existential school of philosophy. He was best known for his major work, Phénoménologie de la Perception (1945, Phenomenology of Perception) which established that the body was the centre of perceptions and medium of consciousness.

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How ‘the future’ connects across subjects

‘Today’s world is complex and unreliable. Tomorrow is expected to be more so.’ – Jennifer M. Gidley, The Future: A Very Short Introduction From the beginning of time, humanity has been driven by a paradox: fearing the unknown but with a constant curiosity to know. Over time, science and technology have developed, meaning that we […]

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Philosopher of The Month: Maurice Merleau-Ponty [slideshow]

This July, the OUP Philosophy team honors Maurice Merleau-Ponty (1908-61) as their Philosopher of the Month.  Merleau-Ponty was a French phenomenologist and together with Sartre founded the existential philosophy. His work draws on the empirical psychology, the early phenomenology of Husserl, Saussure’s structuralism as well as Heidegger’s ontology. His most famous work Phénoménologie de la […]

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The varieties of shame

When my grandmother died in 2009, my far-flung family returned to east Texas to mourn her. People she had known from every stage of her life arrived to pay their respects. At a quiet moment during the wake, my aunt asked my grandfather how he felt about seeing all these people who loved him and who loved my grandmother. He answered, “Shame” and started to cry. 

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Philosopher of the month: Mullā Sadrā [quiz]

This June, the OUP Philosophy team honours Mullā Sadrā (1571 – 1640) as their Philosopher of the Month. Mullā Sadrā was born in Shiraz, southern Iran, but moved around when he was studying and for the many pilgrimages he embarked on in in his lifetime. He later returned to Shiraz when he began teaching and taking on followers of his philosophy.

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Gun control is more complex than you think

In the public debate over gun control, many people talk as if our only options are to support or oppose it. Although some endorse more expansive views, many still talk as if our choices are quite limited: whether to support or oppose a small number of

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The Kuleshov Fallacy

The face has long been regarded as one of the major weapons in the arsenal of cinema—as a tool of characterization, a source of visual fascination, and not least, as a vehicle of emotional expression.

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A good death beyond dignity?

According to the Australian euthanasia activist Philip Nitschke, to choose when you die is “a fundamental human right. It’s not just some medical privilege for the very sick. If you’ve got the precious gift of life, you should be able to give that gift away at the time of your choosing.” This view combines two extreme standpoints in the debate on euthanasia and assisted suicide.

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Five things you might not know about Edmund Burke

Edmund Burke (1730-1797) was an Irishman and a prominent Whig politician in late 18th century England, but he is now most commonly known as “the founder of modern conservatism”—the canonical position which he has held since the beginning of the 20th century in Britain and the rest of the world.

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Philosopher of the month: Mullā Sadrā [infographic]

This June, the OUP Philosophy team honours Mullā Sadrā (1571 – 1640) as their Philosopher of the Month. An Iranian Islamic philosopher, Sadrā is recognised as the major process philosopher of the school of Isfahan. Mullā Sadrā is primarily associated with ‘metaphilosophy’, but also maintains sovereign status as a spiritual leader for the Islamic East.

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